A Vet's Foster Care Journey: Jerry's Story for the US Children's Bureau
A couple of weeks ago I spent two full days in a room with strangers. We were a group of foster parents chosen to participate in a national Foster Care Awareness Month campaign for the US Children’s Bureau. We wrote about our experiences in foster care, chose family photos, recorded our words, and created videos that told our stories.
We all laughed and cried as we watched each other's stories, and I immediately knew I wanted to share them with all of you. The videos will be released in May, but the words are the most powerful part. I hope you enjoy reading a few of our stories. Below is Jerry's story.
Our family wrestled with whether or not to get involved in foster care for about three years before finally making the decision to start. While I was deployed, my wife bought a new house with an extra bedroom and began thinking that we should use it to help someone. She kept seeing foster care related news stories and Facebook posts.
My initial motivation was rooted in challenges during church lessons about finding out what our personal ministries are. I’m a veteran and still in active service, but the first thing that came to mind, and resonated deeply with me, was a New Testament scripture. James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Happily it turns out my wife was chewing on that same theme in meditation on the topic.
It was hard for me to learn about what some our kids have been through. One time, a small seven year old girl quietly approached me as I sat in a dark living room after work. “Jerry, can I tell you something?” she asked. “When I first met you I was very, very scared because you are very, very big…but now I’m not scared because I know you are very, very nice and you make me feel safe.” Times like that are so overwhelmingly fulfilling that it’s hard to describe. It’s a powerful reminder a why we started down this path in the first place.
As children leave our home, we reassure them of the positive things we saw in them, our belief in their ability to overcome tough situations, and our love for them. I have large metal coins, similar to military-style challenge coins, which have various scripture references emblazoned on them. We give the coins to the kids as a tangible reminder of our love for them and of their ability to remain strong.